Kendall Harmon has a series of suggestions on how to read whatever communications come out of the House of Bishop’s meeting today.
His suggestions very much remind me of the way I was taught to approach a biblical passage when preaching on it:
“(1) Please try to read the actual text itself and concentrate on the language the Bishops used. I am sorry if this seems obvious but my Mom was an English teacher–you would be amazed at how little it actually occurs. Who are the worst people to do a Bible study with? Seminarians. Why? Because they have the most deep seated ideas of what the text says before they read it. It is vital that the text be heard on its own terms.
(2) Try to draw conclusions yourself FROM THE TEXT before getting your head clouded with what others think. Be aware that some of the early reactions will be wrong.
(3) When you consider others reactions, read from a variety of sources. You should regularly be visiting reappraiser and reasserter sites, writers you agree with and authors who drive you crazy.
(4) Make your early evaluations tentatively. ‘It seems to be saying that,’ ‘what I hear the statement saying is,’ are the kinds of things I would prefer to hear.
(5) Be aware that every statement like this goes through a process of sifting. Give it at least three days. There is an earthquake, there are aftershocks, and then things settle down.
(6) Expect the discernment to be a corporate activity. We still seek to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ, and we need one another. May the way we respond demonstrate this”
I find myself in pretty much full agreement with Kendall’s suggestions. Whatever comes out is going to be nuanced – and people’s first reactions can often lead them to miss what is actually being communicated.